This is a story about how new media–bloggers and talk radio–acting in real time, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of thousands of amateurs and a few dedicated professionals, can leave major media in the dust.
The story began last Thursday, when the BBC published a a sensational story purporting to debunk the “myth” of Jessica Lynch’s rescue. The BBC’s story–based entirely on interviews with a couple of Iraqi doctors who worked at the hospital where Lynch was held–claimed that the entire rescue was a fraud. The BBC alleged that Iraqi forces had left the hospital days before the raid, that Lynch was not mistreated by the Iraqis, and that the raid was a hoax, staged like an American movie, with special forces “firing blanks” to the amazement of the Iraqis who observed the show.
The BBC’s report attracted the attention of the blogosphere, which promptly swung into action, chiefly at InstaPundit. There are many blog readers and writers who are knowledgeable about firearms (unlike virtually all reporters). They pointed out, among other things, that the claim that U.S. soldiers were “firing blanks” was absurd. American military weapons cannot fire blanks without the addition of a bulky attachment to the firearm. No such attachments are visible in the video footage of the rescue. (For that matter, there is no firing in the video, so the claim that the Pentagon used “blanks” to fake firing on Iraqis makes no sense in any event.) Also, a firearm that has been modified to fire blanks cannot readily be prepared to fire live ammunition, and the idea that American special forces would carry out an operation in a war zone with disabled weapons is ridiculous.
For this and other reasons, the BBC is already beginning to back off its story.
Unfortunately, Robert Scheer, a Communist writer for the Los Angeles Times, didn’t get the word in time, and wrote an inflammatory, hateful column based entirely on the BBC allegations, to which he added his own hysterical surmises. (I am not linking to the column because the LA Times’ web site requires an intrusive, cumbersome registration process in which I refuse to participate.) He should have checked the blogosphere to get his facts straight; instead, he is hung out to dry.
This morning, Hugh Hewitt posted on the Scheer column. And tonight, I heard Hugh interview Glenn Reynolds on Hugh’s radio show. Between the two of them, they left the BBC and Robert Scheer for dead. Reynolds actually knows something about firearms–a useful skill that no “mainstream” reporter I know of has bothered to obtain.
This isn’t to say, of course, that “new media” will be entirely successful in correcting the errors of “mainstream” media. The fantasy that the U.S. Army faked Pfc. Lynch’s rescue, filming a “fictitious” movie of blank-firing special forces for propaganda purposes, will find its way into the lore of the hate-America left. It does show, however, that anyone who wants to be well informed had better include blogs and talk radio among his sources of information.
AND ONE MORE: Bill O’Reilly was all over this story on Fox News tonight.
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